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Ms. Lena's Pies

2885 Highway 33S, De Valls Bluff, AR - (870) 998-7217
Posted By Michael Stern on 10/21/2013 6:38:00 AM
The 2013 Roadfood tour of Memphis and Arkansas cruised into De Valls Bluff on a Saturday, which is definitely the right day. Saturday (and, often, Friday) is when Ms. Lena's offers fried pies. Other days of the week, you might be able to stop in this tiny roadside bakery for chocolate pie, lemon ice box pie, coconut cream pie, sour cream apple pie, egg custard pie, etc.; and what we have sampled from the regular-pie repertoire is four-star, world-class excellent. But the fried pies are even better than that – the best fried pies we've ever had.

Their foremost virtue is crust: nearly parchment-thin and yet savory and rich, brittle and falling into luxurious shards when bitten but substantial enough to offer a dreamy chew at the gnarled cord of dough around the crescent edge. Inside this golden crust are out-of-this-world fillings. All made from scratch, of course: apricot that is sunny and tart; apple that tastes like … apples, but soft and buttery; chocolate that is like the best chocolate pudding you've ever had; a curious autumn specialty called hunter's pie that is chocolate and cherries blended with marshmallows that melt and give the chocolate a dreamy, creamy nature. Coconut, pecan, pumpkin-pecan (around Halloween) are some of the others we found when we stopped in the third week of October.

There is no indoor seating at Ms. Lena's, but we do highly recommend enjoying one of these fried pies when still warm, if possible. The Roadfood tour stood out in front by the side of the road and ate standing up. Fried pies are a natural for plate-free, utensil-free enjoyment.

If you find yourself etween Memphis and Little Rock and you like pie, this place needs to be #1 on the itinerary. It is an Arkansas treasure, and an American great. To find out if and when it is open and which pies are available, check out Ms. Lena's Facebook page, which is scrupulously kept up to date. Within an hour of our visit, Ms. Lena's posted pictures of the Roadfood group oo-ing and ah-ing as we ate our pies under a bright blue sky.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Fried Pie
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The woodpecker fried pie is chocolate, marshmallow and maraschino cherry.  It is only available for a few weeks in the Fall and is especially popular with the local hunters.
"The woodpecker fried pie is chocolate, marshmallow and maraschino cherry. It is only available for a few weeks in the Fall and is especially popular with the local hunters."
Cliff Strutz





If we wanted to argue that Arkansas is America's #1 pie state, this fried pie (which happens to be filled with apricot, and is still warm from the kettle) would be Exhibit 1: hands-down, the best fried pie anywhere.
"If we wanted to argue that Arkansas is America's #1 pie state, this fried pie (which happens to be filled with apricot, and is still warm from the kettle) would be Exhibit 1: hands-down, the best fried pie anywhere."
Michael Stern


A cross section of the pumpkin pecan.
"A cross section of the pumpkin pecan."
Cliff Strutz


Unlike most chocolate pies, Ms. Lena's version wasn't overly sweet or rich, which allows you to especially enjoy the flaky crust and airy meringue.
"Unlike most chocolate pies, Ms. Lena's version wasn't overly sweet or rich, which allows you to especially enjoy the flaky crust and airy meringue."
Cliff Strutz


With fried pies this good, it is easy to overlook the regular pies, like this wonderful coconut cream.
"With fried pies this good, it is easy to overlook the regular pies, like this wonderful coconut cream."
Cliff Strutz


All in the family. Gracen Scroggins was a wonderful hostess to the Roadfood crew when we arrived at her grandmother's pie place. She even offered us samples of the 'kitty litter cake' she had made using Tootsie Rolls.
"All in the family. Gracen Scroggins was a wonderful hostess to the Roadfood crew when we arrived at her grandmother's pie place. She even offered us samples of the 'kitty litter cake' she had made using Tootsie Rolls."
Michael Stern


One regular take-out container holds eight different flavors of fried pie.
"One regular take-out container holds eight different flavors of fried pie."
Cliff Strutz


Ms. Lena's folksy interior.  Note the inventory system in the back.
"Ms. Lena's folksy interior. Note the inventory system in the back."
Cliff Strutz


Pie paradise, just south of Highway 70 in De Valls Bluff
"Pie paradise, just south of Highway 70 in De Valls Bluff"
Michael Stern


Fried pies are popular in much of the South, in Arkansas especially.
"Fried pies are popular in much of the South, in Arkansas especially."
Michael Stern


Eating while standing up in the driveway of Ms. Lena's added to the fun of visiting here during the Roadfood bus tour.
"Eating while standing up in the driveway of Ms. Lena's added to the fun of visiting here during the Roadfood bus tour."
Cliff Strutz



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